A journey to the end of Asia – Kayaking Tanjung Piai

In 2005 I attempted to walk to the very end of the mainland South American continent.  The most Southern Point of mainland South America is known as ‘Cabo Froward‘ and access involves a challenging 5 – 6 day walk along an unmarked trail following the rugged Patagonian coastline.  The trek must be carried out completely independently (no hostels or stores along the way!) so we carried everything we needed.   With numerous river crossings, horrific weather, no communications with the outside world, a walk to Cabo Froward is an enticing challenge.  Things did go wrong for us.  It rained so hard the rivers which were normally knee high, came up to my neck.  We aborted our mission on day two and only just managed to get back out again to the road head.  It was the scariest river crossings I have ever done, the final river we crossed on the way out was high in flood, the waters ran swift and we were forced to cross close to the river mouth which was flowing directly into the sea.  We had to dodge huge trees and logs which were being swept down the river by the flood waters and I was sure we were going to get swept out to sea.
While reflecting on this trip recently, I become curious as to where the Southern most tip of the mainland Asian continent happened to be.  It turns out it is only about 50km from my apartment!   It is known as Tanjung Piai,  and is located at the very southwest tip of Peninsula Malaysia in the state of Johor.  (Sentosa Island in Singapore also claims to be the Southern most tip of continental asia.  However Singapore is an island and their interpretation of this is due to the fact that Singapore is connected to Malaysia by man-made bridges, which do not count when we are looking at the actual natural continental land mass) Together with my wife Stephanie, we set-off on the 12 – 13 October 2013 to make our way to the tip of the Asian continent.  Our mode of travel was the ‘Divorce Machine’ (Our inflatable sea eagle fast track kayak).
We started at Puteri Harbour in the state of Johor.  On the 1st day we paddled for 6 hours, 25km in total, down the south-west coast of Malaysia to the small resort of Tanjung Piai.  We spent the night here in a basic but comfortable resort accommodation.  The next day we rounded the very tip of Tanjung Piai, then headed north up the coast to the small fishing village of Kukup.  A shorter day of 12.5km.   Here we deflated the ‘divorce machine’ at the Kukup ferry terminal in front of a very curious crowd of onlookers, packed her into a taxi and headed back to Puteri harbour to collect our car.   It was a fantastic journey, we paddled through intense sunshine, tropical downpours and choppy waves. We saw families of sea-otters, flying fish and forests of mangroves lining the seashores. We got sun burnt, ate the best roti prata and enjoyed two days of adventure in each others company in a beautiful part of the world.   All for the total cost of S$60 each, some physical effort and some imaginative planning.  That’s what microadventure is all about! Enjoy the photo’s below.
Map of our route on day one with km markings.

Map of our route on day one with km markings.

Map of our route on day two with km markings.

Map of our route on day two with km markings.

Stephanie fueling up on Roti Canai in Gelang Patah before we start.  This stuff is heavy and no need to eat for a few hours afterwards, perfect for kayaking!

Stephanie fueling up on Roti Canai in Gelang Patah before we start. This stuff is heavy and no need to eat for a few hours afterwards, perfect for kayaking!

We started the journey from Puteri Harbour. This friendly security guard allowed us to use the private jetty.

We started the journey from Puteri Harbour. This friendly security guard allowed us to use the jetty.

The Divorce Machine felt right at home as we paddled her our past some other very expensive pleasure craft.

The Divorce Machine felt right at home as we paddled her out past some other very expensive pleasure craft.  Stephanie asked why all the other boats had motors except ours.

The entrance to Puteri Harbour

The entrance to Puteri Harbour

Heading south west - the second link bridge linking Singapore to Malaysia in the distance.

Heading south west – the second link bridge linking Singapore to Malaysia in the distance.

Underneath the second link bridge.

Underneath the second link bridge.

Stephanie celebrating the 1st 8km of the trip after crossing under the 2nd link.

Stephanie celebrating the 1st 8km of the trip after crossing under the 2nd link.

Having a wee swig of 100-plus after we finish the first 8km leg to the 2nd link causeway.

Having a wee swig of 100-plus after we finish the first 8km leg to the 2nd link causeway.

It rained really hard for a short time which was beautiful as it cooled us down. Kayaking in the rain is actually a very pleasant experience in the tropics.

It rained really hard for a short time which was beautiful as it cooled us down. Kayaking in the rain is actually a very pleasant experience in the tropics.

Passing a platform as we get closer to Tanjung Pelepas port

Passing a platform as we get closer to Tanjung Pelepas port

Tanjung Pelepas port in the distance - the wind picked up and the sea go choppy as we crossed here.

Tanjung Pelepas port in the distance – the wind picked up and the sea got choppy as we crossed here.

Stephanie relaxing at a small beach we found on Tanjun Pelepas port.

Stephanie relaxing at a small beach we found on Tanjung Pelepas port.

Heading the last leg of the day, across to the lighthouse at Tanjung Piai, it seemed to take forever.

The last leg of the day, across to the lighthouse at Tanjung Piai, it seemed to take forever.

Finally arriving at the jetty at Tanjung Piai.

Finally arriving at the jetty at Tanjung Piai.

Tanjung Piai resort is situated 2km from the actual tip of the continent.

Tanjung Piai resort is situated 2km from the actual tip of the continent.

Stephanie outside the front entrance - 'Selamat Datang' means 'Welcome' in Malay.

Stephanie outside the front entrance – ‘Selamat Datang’ means ‘Welcome’ in Malay.

The jetty we landed on from Tanjung Piai.  This is the view from our room.

The jetty we landed on at Tanjung Piai. This is the view from our room.

A view of our room on the top right in the building in this photo.  Taken from the jetty.

A view of our room on the top right in the building in this photo. Taken from the jetty.

All I need to keep me happy at the end of a hard day, TV, a good book and a bag of chips.

All I need to keep me happy at the end of a hard day, a nice bed, a good book and a bag of chips.

I went for a walk in the morning around Tanjung Piai and found this small river.

I went for a walk in the morning around Tanjung Piai and found this small river.

The view as the sun rises from Tanjung Piai resort down towards the very tip of the Asian continent - still 2km away.

The view as the sun rises from Tanjung Piai resort down towards the very tip of the Asian continent – still 2km away.

Sun rise from our room.

Beautiful sunrise from our room.

Launching the Divorce Machine from the jetty was a small challenge as the tide was so low. Lucky she is lightweight.

Launching the Divorce Machine from the jetty was a small challenge as the tide was so low. Luckily, she is lightweight.

Setting up the SPOT GPS tracker on the front of the Divorce Machine at the start of Day 2.

Setting up the SPOT GPS tracker on the front of the Divorce Machine at the start of Day 2.

Passing the very tip of mainland Asia. The cape of Tanjung Piai.

Passing the very tip of mainland Asia. The cape of Tanjung Piai.

A close-up of the sign marking this point.

A close-up of the sign marking this point.

Paddling up the west coast of Malaysia towards Kukup fishing village.  The water was so shallow even though we 200m offshore.  I decided to jump out and sunk up to my knee's in very soft mud.

Paddling up the west coast of Malaysia towards Kukup fishing village. The water was so shallow even though we  were 200m offshore. I decided to jump out and sunk up to my knee’s in very soft mud.

Paddling towards Kukup village.

Paddling towards Kukup village we passed many fisherman.

Coming into the ferry terminal at Kukup village.

Coming into the ferry terminal at Kukup village.

Coming into Kukup ferry terminal we had a crowd of curious onlookers.

Coming into Kukup ferry terminal we had a crowd of curious onlookers.

The end! Getting ready to disembark at Kukup ferry terminal.

The end! Getting ready to disembark at Kukup ferry terminal.

I love this sign as we drove back into Singapore!  'Welcome to Singapore' on one side. 'Death to Drug Traffickers' on the other!

I love this sign as we drove back into Singapore! ‘Welcome to Singapore’ on one side. ‘Death to Drug Traffickers’ on the other!

This blog is listed under a section on my website called ‘Microadventure’.  Microadventures are cheap simple adventures close to home. A chap named Alistair Humphreys coined the phrase ‘microadventure’, you can read about him here.  I will continue to add more microadventures to my website to give people idea’s and inspiration to go on your own adventures.  If you do go on your own, I would love to hear about them and do drop me a line!

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Posted on October 14, 2013, in Microadventure, Sea Kayaking, Singapore Micro Adventure and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Hi Axe, We got onot your blog when our fellow Auckland Tramping Club tramper, Jim Morrow, attempted Everest with you. Anyway, I really enjoy reading about your adventures. They make enjoyable and inspirational reading. Thank you for sharing them and best wishes for all your future plans. Deborah Payne PS, it would be excellent if some time on a future trip to NZ if Jim could arrange for you to speak to ATC at one of the club nights.

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    • Hi Deborah, nice to hear from you! Jim is a top chap and I am very excited to link up with him again in December for the peak to peak trip. I would love to speak to your club if I ever get the chance so will keep in contact with Jimbo in this. Have a lovely day! Axe

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  2. oureverydayadventures365

    Nice journey, especially with the Patagonian link. Have you done the Southern most point of Australia? Thanks for sharing

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  3. Hi Axe I really, really,really enjoy following you on all your adventures, together with the photos you really , really, really brighten my day.I still look forward to trips up Everest and wish it was something you were planning to do again next year. I think the reason I love it is the fact it covers so much time. Each year I follow somebody and if you are lucky you manage to become acquainted with someone like you. Your blogs are so descriptive and come straight from the heart but it so sad when the trip is over even when it has been a 100% successful. I am looking forward to your two peaks expedition which should brighten the English winter days for me. If you recall I have been behind Ellis Stewart’s attempt to climb Everest next year and back in the Spring I suggested he contact you and other obvious climbers who could help from a distance. You did this and your contributions really helped him.We are now nearly there with the funding and we are looking forward to his attempt with Tim Mosedale.I am now awaiting delivery of my ‘signed’copy of Alan Hinkes Publication of the 14 8,000 he has climbed. I was lucky to have a visit from him two summers ago, could you arrange to drop in sometime soon!!!! Thanks for taking the time to read this waffle Cheers and Good Luck Kate

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